A 2013 Edgar Award Nominee
The Edge of Nowhere is the first YA title from George, who is best known for her mystery novels featuring Inspector Lynley, which are now a BBC series. It centers around Hannah Armstrong, who immediately reinvents herself as Becca King in order to escape a murderous stepfather. The main plot point hear is that Becca can hear others’ thoughts – a trait she must keep hidden both to avoid detection from her stepfather and keep from bringing other conflicts upon herself. This becomes increasingly difficult as she is separated from her mother and left to fend for herself on Whidbey Island in the state of Washington. She finds help from a kind dog owner, a grandmotherly recovering alcoholic and the town delinquent, but finds herself once again at the center of the drama when a boy she has befriended is found wounded in the woods.
This book was a compelling read to start out, but had too many problems in the end to make it worthwhile. It kept me reading because of the mystery and supernatural elements. I wanted to find out how everything would resolve itself, what the answer to the mystery of the boy in the woods was, whether Becca would be reunited with her mother, how each character would come to be a part of Becca’s life and strange talent, and whether its origins would be revealed. The author dropped clues along the way to keep me reading, but…
It happened again. I don’t know why I don’t see this coming! I was about 3/4 of the way through the book when it dawned on me that there was no way everything was going to be wrapped up by the end. I flipped to the back cover and read the blurb more carefully. Sure enough: “The Edge of Nowhere is the first in a brand new series.” Sigh.
To be fair, much of the mystery was resolved in the end, but there is still far more to tell. And I’m not sure in the end that I’ll be waiting with bated breath for the next installment. One of the ways I judge novels, particularly YA novels, is whether or not I’m wondering as I’m reading why a certain character doesn’t just _________. Why they don’t just tell a grown up, or say what they’re thinking, or ask for help, or do whatever it is I think they should do. Sometimes the author is able to justify the character’s actions satisfactorily, but that wasn’t the case here. I was often frustrated with Becca. I also found the book was longer than it needed to be and lagged at times, partially because I couldn’t always understand what the characters were thinking – they would have some sort of revelation but it wasn’t explained in a way I could follow. Finally, the author had a strange preoccupation with Becca’s weight that sat wrong with me. I attribute a lot of these problems as missteps in trying to switch to a YA voice. George didn’t make the jump very gracefully, and it shows. Overall, it doesn’t add much to the supernatural/YA genre.
Author’s Website: http://www.elizabethgeorgeonline.com/
Elizabeth George interview on the Enoch Pratt Free Library Podcast: http://www.prattlibrary.org/booksmedia/podcasts/index.aspx?id=77321&mark=elizabeth+george
Tourism page about Uganda: http://www.visituganda.com/
Peace Corps page about Africa: http://www.peacecorps.gov/learn/wherepc/africa/
Alcoholics Anonymous: http://www.aa.org/?Media=PlayFlash
Essay questions based on past MCAS prompts:
1. Often in works of literature, a character feels pressure to succeed. Select a character from The Edge of Nowhere who feels pressure to succeed. In a well-developed composition, identify the character, describe how the character feels pressure to succeed, and explain how the character’s experience is important to the work as a whole.
2. Often in works of literature, a character develops a friendship with or feelings of love for someone who is disapproved of by others. Select a character from The Edge of Nowhere who develops a friendship with or feelings of love for someone who is disapproved of by others. In a well-developed composition, identify the character, describe the character’s relationship, and explain how the relationship relates to the work as a whole.
3. Often in works of literature, a character’s life is affected by a single act or mistake. Select a character from The Edge of Nowhere whose life is affected by a single act or mistake. In a well-developed composition, identify the character, describe how he or she is affected by a single act or mistake, and explain how the character’s experience relates to the work as a whole.
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